Why are we ‘Muslims’?
Why are we ‘Muslims’?
My dear children, as you all know that London is the largest city in the UK. There are many interesting places to visit there, full of lots of wonderful things and places to see. In the heart of this fascinating city lives a sweet little girl called Alisha. Alisha lives with her mother, father, two sisters and a little brother. All the brothers and sisters live happily together. Alisha is the eldest and goes to School, while her younger sisters, Areeba and Inaaya, and brother Haashim, still too young to go, spend their days playing at home.
The children live in a lovely house not too far from Alisha’s school. Close to their house is a park. The children often go to this park with their parents and have lots of fun taking turns on the swing and other rides. It was one such wonderful day when they were all together having fun in that park that Areeba turned to her mother and asked, “mama, why are we called Muslims?”
Mama replied, “We were born in Muslim families, my parents were Muslims so I became a Muslim and the same for you, because me and your Dad are Muslims, you are born a Muslim”
Areeba thought about this for a while, then asked
“So what does it actually mean to be a Muslim? And how is it different from those who are not Muslims?”
Areeba’s mom smiled and said, “This lovely green grass, that beautiful blue sky, this whole wonderful world is created by Allah. He also created human beings, and then gave them rules to live by. These rules combine to form a way of life and this way of life is Islam. Now whoever chooses to live by these rules automatically follows that way of life and is called a Muslim. Those who do not follow these rules are not Muslims. All these rules that we need to follow are given in the Quran”
By this time, Alisha had become tired of building sand castles and had come to sit with Areeba and her mom. She was silently listening to their conversation and was curious about what Mama meant by ‘rules’. She asked Mama to explain what a rule was.
Mama asked them if they remembered the incident from a couple of days ago, when two cars had collided into each other at the crossing across their house. Of course, they remembered! They had all heard the loud crash and had rushed to the window to see. Alisha remembered clearly, it was a red and a blue car that had crashed into each other.
Mama nodded and continued, “Exactly, and thank God nobody had been badly hurt! The police had arrived shortly. After investigating, the policemen had found that it was the fault of the guy driving the red car. The man got fined too. Now, how did the policemen decide that it was that guy’s fault and not the one in the blue car?”
Both girls sat in silence, thinking. After a pause, Mama explained, “There are clear rules the people need to follow when they are driving. For example, they can drive on one particular side of the road and not the other. Anyone who doesn’t follow those rules breaks the law. The man in the red car was driving in the wrong lane, he did not follow the rule and was thus punished. The man in the blue car was driving by the rules and this is why he did not get fined by the police. This is the system designed by some wise people, so that all of us can live safely. If everyone follows the rules, there will be no accidents.”
Alisha was very interested now, she wanted to know more and more. Before Mama could be distracted by Haashim’s baby talk, she quickly asked, “So has Allah made a system for all humans then, with rules that we should follow, so that all of us can avoid making mistakes?”
Mama ran her fingers lovingly through Alisha’s hair and answered, “Yes my darling. Allah has made rules for us. If we fail to follow them, we often end up hurting ourselves or others… for example, we all know that fire burns right? The rule there is not to touch it. But do you remember your cousin Nasir? He didn’t listen and put his hand on the burning candle flame, silly boy! And then he was running all over the place, screaming in pain. What a sight! And do you remember what his dad said to him then?”
Alisha naughtily giggled and said, “Yes, his dad told him it served him right!”
Mama nodded and said, “Yes. The poor boy had been so fascinated by fire, we had told him so many times not to play with it but he just wouldn’t listen! And that day, he finally learned his lesson.. what a painful way to learn!”
Alisha excitedly said, “So … he got punished for breaking the simple rule, don’t put your hand in the fire, isn’t it!”
Mama said, “Yes darling. And the rule was made because it is the law of nature that fire burns, just as water flows and air is invisible. These are laws of nature, created by Allah. Once we know the nature of these elements, the laws of nature as we call them, we should be smart enough to respect these laws and follow the rules created to deal with them. If we don’t follow the rules, we might end up running all over the place screaming in pain like that poor boy”
Alisha added, “And are all such laws given in the Quran then?”
Mama nodded and said, “Yes. Allah has explained to us how everything works, what is the nature of things and of humans.. fire burns, humans lie, seasons change.. everything is explained in the Quran… and He has also given us rules that we should follow, if we want to avoid accidents and live peacefully. It is all clearly explained. This way of life, according to the rules given in the Quran, is called Islam. Those of us who follow this way of life are called Muslims”
The sisters were silent now. They had learned so much today. The sun was setting, it was time to go home. As Alisha and Areeba skipped happily home, their little minds were happy with the thought that now they at least knew that there was a book of rules, and in that book is given a formula for a safe and happy life. If they could read and understand that book, they might actually discover a way of life that not only promises to keep them safe, but also guarantees safety and happiness of those around them. That, my dear children, is surely a happy thought, and a wonderful end to a lovely day!